Thanks for making this question, Susan. It's interesting to learn more about Peet's, one of the largest coffee brands inside the craft segment.
Arguably, Peet's doesn't define itself as a specialty coffee roaster, but the company pioneered a radical change in the American coffee industry. Currently, Peet's takes pride in its efforts to source its coffee ethically.
Peet's has to demonstrate efforts to prevent serious business misconduct like slavery and human trafficking as a California-based company.
For sure, simply avoiding criminal activity isn't exactly what we expect when we ask for ethical sourcing. Still, it's shocking how many companies are still doing business with providers that can't prove decent labor relationships.
According to Peet's "Supply Chain Transparency" documentation, they ethically source their coffee by taking several measures:
Verification: working with a third party to evaluate sourcing conditions that might indicate signs of slavery, human trafficking, or any criminal, unfair practice in the supply chain.
Auditing: the company audits its suppliers for compliance against human trafficking and slavery.
Supplier certification: asking for third-party certifications instead of relying on coffee suppliers' certifications.
Accountability standards: all Peet's suppliers' contracts enforce workers' fair, ethical, and legal treatment.
Training: Peet's employees involved in supply chain management undergo human trafficking and slavery prevention training.
Accordingly, many sources support Peet's standing as a fair business player. The only doubt we may have about Peet's ethical sourcing comes from the actual impact these practices have on coffee producers living conditions.
As I said before, human trafficking and slavery are horrendous crimes. Preventing these crimes is far from what we would expect as a standard of ethical sourcing.
Instead, ethical sourcing is starting to improve living standards for coffee producers. To some extent, building honest partnerships across the coffee value chain has proven more valuable than compliance.
In any case, ethical sourcing is a tough challenge for the coffee industry. Looking at the debate and the questions raised about ethical coffee and sustainability, I am optimistic about the industry's future.